Cracked Open: book 3

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Thirteen

Ciro

“I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can do.”

“But Myra, it’s natural. A witch can cure any plant. It’s a damn tree!” I heard Kaia plead, as I stood behind her.

“Not something like this, Kaia.” Myra turned as if dismissing us.

“Myra, please. There must be something you can do.” My blossom was begging and at this point she could be groveling down on her knees. I hated feeling her helplessness spiral through my chest. But if she wanted to try to find a cure, I wouldn’t stop her. Honestly, I don’t think she would let me.

“There is nothing.” There was a pause, and I waited feeling all of Kaia’s emotions stronger than ever before. “There’s another witch right before you leave the border of Paxton. She’s hidden well and lives with the humans.”

Kaia nodded with encouragement. I could see the excitement in her eyes at the knowledge of another witch, as I repositioned myself next to her. My hand brushed hers and she grabbed it immediately.

“But I have to warn you, she always wants something in return.”

“I don’t care. I’ll do anything.”

Myra looked Kaia straight in the eyes, a steady gaze that tested Kaia to look away first. Kaia stayed with Myra’s gaze easily. “That’s what they all say.”

“Myra, I don’t have the time for this. Either you tell me her name or I’ll find her some other way.” Kaia groaned in frustration, and became even more desperate.

I grasped onto her fingers tighter as they started to fold inward and become stiff. My firm touch immediately relaxed her stance, and I leaned in to kiss the side of her neck. Even though it didn’t look it, because she never moved an inch, my blossom felt my love and desire -- my support. I breathed warmly against her skin for good measure before pulling away.

“Fine, her name is SaBella. She lives in the east.”

Kaia muttered a thank you, but as we turned to leave Myra demanded our attention one last time.

“A word from one friend to the next. Be careful. She isn’t as understanding as I am. She’s not very open to strangers either. SaBella seems shy, but she is very powerful. I’m not saying that I’m weaker than her.” Myra flipped her long brunette hair with white streaks behind her shoulder. “Who would ever say that? I’m the queen of all these witchy bitches.” Her cackle was heard down the street.

Before we could even turn the corner, Myra yelled after us. “You don’t want her on you bad side! See you soon, baby doll!” At the last remark I felt Kaia shudder and huff all in the same stride.


“Well, I think this is it. We’ve been asking around for hours.” Kaia and I looked up at a dark building.

I mumbled, “Myra wasn’t kidding when she said SaBella was hard to find.”

“No, she said SaBella was shy.” Kaia shrugged her shoulders while peeking into the large window. “Plus, look, we found her.” She pointed into the dimly lit interior of the store. There were only a few people inside –mostly human. Before I could ask Kaia how she knew, she answered, “Because she’s the only one that caught my eye and everything about her screams witch.”

As we walked in off of the street, a high-pitched bell tinged above our heads. Every single creature in the cramped store turned our way. Kaia ignored them and so did I.

Kaia slashed a glare around the room. “What?”

Everyone slowly went back to what they were doing.

Kaia grabbed onto my hand and pulled me with her through the store towards a woman in dark clothes. As we got closer I saw the youth in her face, and the multiple necklaces wrapped around her neck that held different symbols. When she turned our way with an unwelcoming, raised eyebrow I saw a black tattoo stamped across her cheekbone. It was a double ax.

“We need your help.” That was Kaia – no time for pleasantries, always straight to the point.

“Yes, I know that.” SaBella responded, not with warmth but also not burning us where we stood.

“Please.”

“Come back tomorrow. Now isn’t the time.”

Kaia didn’t take that answer so well. “SaBella now is the perfect time. My mate,” she squeezes my hand, “is sick and will die. He’s a -”

“Tree spirit, and his tree is dying.” Sabella paused and looked between us both. “And you are not mates.”

I was confused. We could feel each other, understand what the other wanted on such a deeper level. How are we not mates?

“What!” Kaia was going to rip Sabella’s throat out. “What did you just say?”

“You two are not bonded yet.” Sabella stood strong, never taking a step back when Kaia stepped forward threateningly.

“Yeah so? What does that have to do with anything?”

“It has to do with everything.” Turning away from us then she mumbled, “I can’t help you. No one can.”

Kaia growled and I could feel the hopelessness sink into her. “But...But you’re the fourth witch we came to.”

I’ve never heard tears in Kaia’s voice before, never knew her to cry in public, but she was really close now. I knew if I were to touch her then it would only bring the tears out.

“None of those witches could help you. They just told you another name because they didn’t want to tell you the truth.” SaBella almost looked sad. “I am sorry, truly. But I’m glad you have each other. Love can break through anything.”

Kaia stood there for a moment, trying to take everything in. She was angry, then sad, then all of the other emotions added up and just melted into shock making her feel helpless. Like there was nothing else to do.

“Kaia, Blossom, we should go.” I whispered quietly and braided my fingers with hers.

She nodded and looked at me like she wanted to say something. I shook my head, “It’s okay.”

“Ciro. It’s not.”

“It is okay. Come on.” I pulled her gently away from the checkout counter and SaBella. I could feel her tightness in my chest. She was on the verge of rare tears.

As we walked our way back through Paxton, it didn’t take Kaia long to speak. “Ciro, we have to find somebody else. We have to find another way.”

I kept walking even though Kaia wanted to slow down and continue her search for a cure. Squeezing my hand around Kaia’s I responded, “You can look some more tomorrow, Blossom. It’s getting late, and I don’t want to go through the forest when the sun is down.”

She still fought me on this. “But I know the woods. We can stay for another hour and then head back.”

We kept walking even though her words tried to slow us down. I sighed with frustration.

“Blossom, I realize you know the woods, but I know them too, and at night it completely transforms. If you get hurt because we’re trying to run away from some creature, I would blame myself.” Then I thought, or at least until my tree dies and I possibly go with it. I sighed again, and I hoped Kaia thought I was just trying to breathe. I glanced her way, because I noticed her presence was very quiet. I wasn’t sure what she was trying to figure out, but I let her have that time while we walked out of Paxton.

Not even thirty minutes later, more than half way back to her mountain, she stopped me in our tracks with her words. “You’ve accepted it.” It wasn’t a question, because she had an accusing tone.

I stopped and so did she. I looked down into her eyes, and it was so very hard to hide anything from her now that she could look into my eyes. Understanding and pain lightened her eyes before I even spoke.

“Look, I knew there would be no cure, but I also knew you wouldn’t believe me. With you being stubborn...” I smirked, “You needed proof that there was no cure, and then you needed to accept it. I have-î

“No.” Blossom stopped me and her eyes were now shiny with angry tears. “No, you do not get to give up or accept that this is your fate. Because you know what? The gods handed you the crappiest fate known to man, and men don’t know much. We are going to prove them wrong. There is a cure and I’m going to be the first to find it. Ciro -”

I gazed down at Kaia with love and sadness. She was my mate and I loved every part of her. I loved her green eyes, her hair my fingers played with in bed. Her spunk, the way she teased me all the time. Or the way Kaia’s bottom lip jutted out, making me want to nip it. When she’s her stubborn self, her chin would lift and her eyes become hard ñ ready to fight.

Looking into my eyes, she saw all of this and more. “Damn it! Ciro, what am I supposed to do? I love you, damn it. What am I supposed to do when you’re gone? What happens, huh? I can’t live- "

My knuckles caressed her cheek, cutting her off, and a single tear ran down the other. Kaia wiped it away angrily, still looking to me for an answer. I refuse to admit that my eyes have become wet as well. Honestly, I have nothing to say. Leaning down, I rest my forehead against hers and wrap both hands around her cheeks gently. “I love you too, Blossom.”

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